Christmas shoppers show their support for independents

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Date: 14 December 2021

A happy couple buy Christmas gifts from local independent businesses

A new survey has found that over half of Brits plan to shop for gifts in independent retailers this Christmas as polls also suggest that consumer spending could rise by 25% this year.

A new survey of 2,000 UK shoppers conducted by Icon Printing has found that well over half (59%) say that supporting independent retailers is an important consideration when buying gifts this year and two-thirds (67%) said they are considering shopping sustainably this Christmas.

The findings come as Optimizely reveals that its poll of 1,000 UK consumers indicates that shoppers are set to increase their spending by a quarter (25%) this Christmas. The results also show that:

  • 59% say they plan to do more online shopping this Christmas compared to last year;
  • 36% of consumers say they expect an improved online shopping experience;
  • 63% of consumers say they are more likely to do their Christmas shopping with brands that provide a digital experience that meets their specific needs.

Alex Atzberger, ceo of Optimizely, said: "While brands should be delivering excellent digital experiences for consumers throughout the year, the stakes are especially high during the Christmas season - especially this year where shoppers are planning to spend more online … only the brands that have progressed their digital maturity through experimentation and personalisation to become adaptive to consumer needs will differentiate and win over shoppers this Christmas."

While spending is set to rise, however, retailers still have to contend with the dreaded returns and exchanges after Christmas. A survey by Emarsys has found that 31% of shoppers say that buying presents that go unappreciated and get returned is their top bugbear during the holidays. The poll of 2,000 UK consumers also shows that 30% say that they dislike the guesswork that goes into not knowing what people want. A further 23% dislike people pretending to like the gifts they've bought.

Worryingly, ParcelHero says online returns are expected to top £3.9bn in a "January avalanche" this year. It means that over 10% of all gifts will wing their way back to the retailer after the holidays.

David Jinks, ParcelHero's head of consumer research, has warned shoppers that returns policies and deadlines vary. He said: "Shoppers are aware by now that they can return any online purchase up to 14 days after delivery with no quibbles, and any faulty store-bought or online item up to 30 days after purchase. Note that the no-quibble guarantee doesn't cover non-faulty shop-bought items. Nonetheless, many of our favourite retailers do let us return any items, faulty or non-faulty, purchased online or in-store, for a lengthy period after Christmas. Others are more grudging."

Jinks has also warned that the window for Christmas final online order dates is getting tighter. "Given the current strain on delivery services because of Omicron and Brexit, we won't be surprised if retailers change to earlier final order dates as Christmas nears."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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